[Tagging] what is the meaning of bicycle=yes on highway=path

Volker Schmidt voschix at gmail.com
Thu Apr 11 14:43:54 UTC 2019

In the context of cycling-related tagging there is an issue which I would
like to bring up.
This regards the tag combination highway=path and bicycle=yes.

Access tags generally are about legal access (with a few exceptions which
do not apply here)
"highway=path" implies "bicycle=yes" (in most jurisdictions) - see the
proposed Default-Access-Restriction for all countries
OpenCycleMap renders a "highway=path" with "bicycle=yes" in the same way as
a dedicated cycleway ("highway=cycleway" with our without
"bicycle=designated") or a combined foot-cycle-way ("highway=path" with
"foot=designated" and "bicycle=designated"). A "highway=path" with no
"bicycle=yes" or with "bicycle=no" is shown with a separate rendering which
is also used for "highway=footpath" (see https://www.opencyclemap.org/docs/)

The real problem is that many mappers with mountain-bike interest use this
to distinguish what they consider paths for MTBs ( "highway=path" with
"bicycle=yes") from paths they do not consider MTB suitable by tagging them
without "bicycle=yes".

The problem is widespread and has two different consequences

   - different rendering of legally identical situations (a mountain path
   for hikers with permission also for MTB)
   - identical rendering of two very different things (an MTB path and a
   city cycleway)

This confusion is not helped by the iD mappers who are invited to fill in
the detailed access tables independently of any default values.

This has come up up (again) in the context of a nation-wide attempt in
Italy to review all mountain hiking trails of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI)
and insert them with details into OSM. CAI mappers are discussing whether
to remove during that operation the apparently redundant "bicycle=yes"
tagging or not.

I am sure this has been addressed in the passed and I only have not found
traces of the old discussions.
I have no proposal on how to proceed, but would like hear your opinions
about this.

Padova, Italy
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